For tens of millions of years the ratite moa (Aves: Dinornithiformes) were the largest herbivores in New Zealand’s terrestrial ecosystems. In occupying this ecological niche for such a long time, moa undoubtedly had a strong influence on the evolution of New Zealand’s flora and played important functional roles within ecosystems. The extinction of moa in the 15th century ce therefore marked a significant event in New Zealand’s biological history, not only in terms of biodiversity loss, but in the loss of an evolutionarily and ecologically distinct order of birds.
New Zealand has a unique opportunity to reshape the future of 1.2 million hectares, or 5% of the country. Since 1990, land clearance and development in the South Island high country have removed large areas of native vegetation, destroying already tenuous endemic species populations, and rare and threatened ecosystems. Important ecosystems and ecological values have been subtly or dramatically degraded through tenure review, discretionary consents, and invasions of plant and animal pests.
Predators can indirectly structure local plant communities by altering the diversity and behaviour of herbivores. These ‘trophic cascades’ can be seriously disrupted by the local extinction of top predators. They can also be restored by the subsequent re-introduction of top predators by conservationists. Here, we investigated trophic cascades involving kākā, puriri moths and their host trees. New Zealand kākā (Nestor meridionalis, Nestoridae) are large parrots that were extirpated from most of its range in the 20th century.
Invasive rodents pose one of the biggest threats to island ecosystems globally. Reliable methods for detecting and monitoring rodent presence are essential for the effective conservation management of islands, but many detection devices fail to attract rodents when natural resources are abundant. Using a toolbox of detection methods is therefore key to detecting rodents as individual rodents vary in their susceptibility to detection devices.
According to the most recent (2005) compendium on the history of the European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) in New Zealand, this small insectivorous mammal was first brought from Europe to the South Island in the 19th century. This introduction has been presumed to be the source of hedgehogs that subsequently spread to the North Island. This view was informed by the absence of hedgehogs in the North Island throughout the 19th century and no evidence of direct shipments of hedgehogs from overseas to the North Island.
The diet, population structure and breeding of ship rats (Rattus rattus L.) from Fiordland National Park were assessed from measurements and gut sample analysis of 248 rats trapped between March 2009 and March 2010, following a mast beech seedfall. They consumed many lepidopteran larvae but fewer weta and more vegetative plant matter than in other habitats, as well as beech seed. Birds and mice made up only a relatively small proportion of the diet. A lizard was also confirmed as a prey item of R.
New Zealand’s mountainous environments support unique flora and fauna specially adapted to the extreme cold and harsh conditions of the alpine zone. The orange-spotted gecko (Mokopirirakau “Roys Peak”) is a rare undescribed gecko that is currently known only from the alpine zone of Otago. The species was discovered in 1998 and is only known from the Central Otago and Queenstown-Lakes districts, with populations spanning a ~3000 km2 area.
In New Zealand, as in other developed nations, community-led conservation groups work to maintain and restore ecosystems and conserve indigenous biodiversity. These groups receive support in the form of materials, technical advice and funding from central and local government and non-governmental organisations, who are required increasingly to demonstrate delivery of benefits or conservation returns on investments. However, there is little empirical evidence for the objective evaluation of the effectiveness of community-based programmes in achieving national conservation outcomes.
Mesopredator and competitor release can lead to population increases of invasive house mice (Mus musculus) after larger introduced mammals are controlled or eradicated. In New Zealand, mammal-resistant fences have enabled multi-species mammal eradications in order to protect indigenous species. When house mice are the only mammals remaining in these biodiversity sanctuaries, they may reach a high population density, with potential consequences for their indigenous prey.
Abstract: The Department of Conservation has implemented a Biodiversity and Monitoring Reporting System (BMRS) that estimates occupancy rates and relative abundances of introduced brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) at a representative sample of sites on public conservation land. Leg-hold traps have been used to monitor possums in the BMRS, but wax tags and chew cards have logistical and financial advantages over traps.